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Cruiser Olympia: Then and Now

Enjoy these descriptions and accompanying historical and current photographs of the Cruiser Olympia.


Starboard Side

Home from her triumph at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish-American War, the Cruiser Olympia is seen from her starboard, or right-hand side, in the historic 1899 photograph at left. Today Olympia is a cornerstone of Independence Seaport Museum's Historic Ship Zone. Her berthmate, the World War II Submarine Becuna, can be seen to the starboard side of Olympia in the modern image at right.

1899 Photo, National Archives; 2002 Photo, ISM


Officers' Saloon

The ornate officers' saloon was once the private preserve of Olympia's senior officers. The circular settee disguises an ammunition hoist that ferried shells from Olympia's magazines to the 8" gun turret directly above this space. Visitors to this compartment walk on Olympia's original Douglas fir decking, freshly varnished in 2002. A member of Olympia's Living History Crew poses in the modern image at right.

Circa 1900 Photo, National Archives; 2002 Photo, ISM

Officers' Wardroom

Olympia's senior officers gathered in the Wardroom for meals and conversation. The Wardroom features the same Douglas fir decking as the Officers' Saloon. As luxurious as this space is, Olympia's captain typically dined in his own stateroom on the deck above. Members of Olympia's Living History Crew are seen seated in the contemporary image.

1902 photo, National Archives; 2002 Photo, ISM

Junior Officers' Mess

Officers fresh from the U.S. Naval Academy dined in the Junior Officers' Mess. This compartment was originally larger than the mess seen by Olympia's visitors today. It was slightly reduced in size during World War I to create office space. The compartment is entirely wood paneled and contains rare intact examples of original furnishings, including a table and sideboard.

1902 photo, National Archives; 2002 photo, ISM

Main Deck

Sailors dine at their hanging mess table on Olympia's main deck in the historic image at left. Olympia's 396-man crew was divided into "messes" of about 22 men each. Each individual mess dined together at tables similar to the one seen here. The modern image at right shows an empty mount for a 5-inch gun, removed in 1917.

Circa 1900 photo, National Archives; 2002 photo, ISM

Flag Officer's Cabin

As a flagship, Olympia often hosted high-ranking naval officers, who used the spacious flag officer's cabin while aboard ship. During Olympia's service in the Spanish-American War Commodore George Dewey lived here. The wooden doors seen in the historic image slid open to reveal the Captain's cabin, visible in the background of the modern image. The bookcase and sideboard remain today where they were in 1899.

1899 Photo, National Archives; 2002 photo, ISM